Knowing the right business attire in China is essential to making a good first impression when doing business with Chinese colleagues. Due to the population and size of China, and China's growing economy, many individuals may find themselves doing business in China. Being properly dressed is essential for success.
Proper Business Attire in China
There are several important rules for proper business attire in China. First, you should never wear shorts. Shorts are considered appropriate for exercise and never for the workplace. In fact, even during the summer, you will rarely see shorts worn in China by anyone other than tourists.
You should also avoid wearing bright fabrics, as bright colors are considered inappropriate in the Chinese workplace. You need to wear dark or muted colors. Both men and women should dress in a conservative manner. Blue jeans should never be worn in the workplace. Even if it is Friday, Chinese companies do not have a "casual day."
Business Attire For Women
If you are a woman, special style rules apply. Chinese business women dress quite conservatively, and you should mimic this style. You should not wear anything revealing. If you choose to wear a dress, the hem needs to be below the knee or the dress is considered inappropriate. You should also wear a high neckline.
Avoid wearing extremely high heels, regardless of what you are wearing. A shoe with a low heel is acceptable, but the heel must be extremely small. If your hosts are shorter than you, do not wear a heel at all. It will be considered a sign of disrespect and rudeness. Only closed-toe shoes are worn, such as pumps. Open-toe shoes are inappropriate for the Chinese workplace.
You also cannot wear flashy or large jewelry, regardless of what you wear. If you choose to wear jewelry, choose pieces that are small and appropriate. Do not wear large earrings, large jeweled rings, or bulky necklaces.
If possible, wear a business suit, and try to wear colors such as beige, brown, or navy. Sleeves on your shirt should be full or three-quarter length. Chinese women do not wear short sleeves in the workplace. A woman who reveals too much skin is considered offensive by Chinese businessmen.
It is also frowned upon to wear too much makeup. If you choose to wear makeup, your makeup should be modest and natural. Never wear bright eye shadows. You also should avoid wearing nail polish. If you must wear nail polish, make sure it is not a bright color. Your nails should be neatly trimmed, and fake nails should not be worn to any Chinese business event.
Business Attire for Men
If you are a man, the proper business attire in China is not that different from conservative companies in the West. You should wear a conservative suit and tie. Always wear a tie, and choose ties in neutral colors. Avoid bright, flashy ties and patterns.
In China, you also need to keep your suit jacket on at all times. It is considered rude and inappropriate to remove the jacket during the meeting, and it will be thought of as a sign of disrespect to the company hosting you.
You should wear a suit to any business social event. Even for formal events, a business suit is appropriate; tuxedos are rarely worn.
Like shoes for women, only closed-toe shoes are worn by businessmen. Never wear casual footwear, athletic footwear, or sandals in an office environment.
Don't wear jewelry other than a good quality watch and perhaps a wedding band. If you are meeting with a very important company, you should wear a nicer watch. If you don't own an expensive or a nice watch, do not wear a replica watch. It is likely that your host will be able to spot the fact that the watch is a fake. Instead, opt for no watch at all.
If you have any doubts about the appropriateness of your outfit, it is best to err on the side of caution and dress as conservatively as possible. It is rare to offend someone by being too conservative, while it is easy to offend by wearing dress considered flashy, revealing or tasteless.